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Spread at Bavel
Apps and spreads at Bavel
Nicole Franzen

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Bavel Brings the Bestia Team’s Middle Eastern Dream to Life

Ori Menashe and co. throw open a surefire Middle Eastern hit this week

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Chef Ori Menashe tends to be a serious guy — just ask anyone who’s worked for him. But it’s hard not to notice the smile he carries when talking about his new restaurant Bavel, a supremely sunny Arts District option set to open to the world on Friday.

“I’ve been cooking Italian food for 16 years,” says Menashe from a corner table at the new place, keeping one eye on the conversation and the other on a full kitchen staff that is firing the entire Bavel menu from start to finish — twice. “And it’s all been leading to this place.”

Unlike his Downtown mega-hit Bestia, which started with a pizza and pasta focus but has over the years emerged as something of a melding of Menashe’s Italian and Middle Eastern worlds, Bavel will be he and wife Genevieve Gergis’s full-footed foray into Los Angeles’s modern Middle Eastern movement. The pair have a cultural history in countries like Israel, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt, and Bavel is a combination and culmination of much of that past.

The menu flows from hot and cold small plates starters and Middle Eastern-spiced charcuterie to creamy hummus with wood-fired pitas, with flatbreads and cocktails along the way. There are a few key mains to build a table around with friends, but like most of the Middle Eastern-inspired places popping up around the city this is a restaurant to explore over many small dishes, lots of greens, and time. The full opening menu can be found on the restaurant website.

Lighting details

It’s easy to want to linger inside the Studio UNTLD-designed (in collaboration with Gergis) restaurant, which sits in a repurposed Arts District warehouse not far from Bestia proper. There’s a free-hanging garden of indoor plants hovering above the dining room, and when lit at night the whole thing feels like a glowing green chandelier. Brick walls have been mellowed to an off-white hue, and toned-down blue and yellow tiles pair up with gold fixtures, dark rattan chairs, marble tabletops, and rose gold bar seats.

There’s a partially-shaded patio too, and eventually the entire property will be humming with life thanks to an attached Verve Coffee and other tenants beyond. Leah Bunch, a longtime general manager at Bestia, comes in as a partner and overall director of operations, keeping an eye on everything from the patio to the pastry station at once.

Bavel officially opens to the world on Friday, keeping evening hours only to start (lunch will follow). That means Sundays and Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m., with a Friday and Saturday extension until midnight. Closed Mondays. Expect Ori and his team to be there, with Genevieve in the back making the pastry station come to life. This is the place they’ve both wanted for so many years, and now all that’s left is to get to work — which is reason enough for Ori to smile.

500 Mateo St.
Los Angeles, CA

Looking into the kitchen
Bar at Bavel
A look at the bar
Plenty of casual seating
A ceiling draped in greens
Gorgeous gold lighting
The open dining room
Bavel, Arts District
Lots of light
Tall ceilings
Comfortable booths along the far wall
Whole dourad from Bavel
Whole dourad
Nicole Franzen
Apple prune cake
Nicole Franzen

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